Andretti Autosport is fielding an all-British line-up of Stefan Wilson and James Winslow in St Petersburg, Florida, for the season-opening Indy Lights street race held as warm-up for the main IndyCar event.
Former McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver award-winner Stefan Wilson has joined the team for the whole season, following 11 of 13 races last season for Bryan Herta Autosport and a handful of outings in 2009 for Walker Racing.
Michael Andretti said: “It’s great to have Stefan join our team. He’s a good, young driver and is really hungry to win. He’s got a lot of potential and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do together this year.”
Wilson, younger brother of IndyCar and ex-F1 racer Justin, said: “I’m really excited to race with Andretti Autosport this year in Firestone Indy Lights.
“I have two years of experience in the series behind me, and I think this year I will have the right resources and the skills necessary to put myself out front. I’m looking forward to getting out there with the team in St. Petersburg for our first race.”
Early versions of the entry list for the race showed a second Andretti car with no named driver, but on Wednesday the team announced James Winslow would pilot it during the St Petersburg weekend.
Winslow, a former rookie driver for Britain’s A1GP team, won championships in Asia and Australia for three successive years and is well-used to scrabbling to put together a season’s racing.
He managed six races last year for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) and will be looking to impress enough at St Pete to be taken on for the full season.
He said: “I’m really pleased to be racing at St. Petersburg with Andretti Autosport. It’ll be great to get back in a Firestone Indy Lights car again, especially with such a successful and prestigious team. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank everybody involved. I’m looking for a good result this weekend.”
Andretti’s chief operating officer JF Thormann said: “We’re excited to be able to bring James to the St. Pete race with us. With his experience in the Firestone Indy Lights and his success overseas, he’ll be a great addition to our team this weekend.”
In qualifying Wilson was the top driver outside of the dominant SSM drivers, setting the fourth-best time, while Winslow will start 10th. The pair face some tough competition if they are to succeed this weekend.
Starting on pole for SSM will be Esteban Guerrieri, an Argentinian whose European racing career has suffered due to lack of funding but has still managed some impressive performances. He raced Sebastien Bourdais wheel-to-wheel in Superleague Formula and was unfortunate to be denied last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 crown thanks to a questionable disqualification after winning at Silverstone.
His SSM team-mates include two Americans, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden, who qualified second and third. Newgarden raced in GP3 last season, while Daly blitzed the 2010 Star Mazda field and will criss-cross the Atlantic this year to race in both Indy Lights and GP3.
Behind Wilson in fifth after qualifying is Dubliner Peter Dempsey, nicknamed ‘the Irish Steamroller’ for his performances during the 2008 and 2009 Star Mazda campaigns in which he finished third and second overall.